August 3, 2020 - Issue: Vol. 166, No. 137 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 2nd Session
NOTICE OF INTENT TO OBJECT; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 137
(Senate - August 03, 2020)
Text available as:
Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.
[Page S4665] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] NOTICE OF INTENT TO OBJECT Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, in 2008, Congress responded to rising reports of child sexual abuse material--CSAM--online by passing the PROTECT Act to direct the Department of Justice to combat these heinous crimes. However, in the decade that followed, DOJ failed to request the manpower, funding, and resources to combat this scourge, leaving both the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children--NCMEC--and law enforcement agencies uncoordinated, understaffed, and underfunded. As a result, though tech companies reported more than 45 million instances of CSAM to NCMEC in the last year alone, just a fraction were investigated, and even fewer were prosecuted and convicted. Yet, rather than confronting this failure by Congress and the executive branch, my colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee have put forth the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies--EARN IT--Act, a deeply flawed piece of legislation that would revoke online platforms' intermediary liability protections with regard to not only Federal civil Jaw, but also any State law broadly related to CSAM. The EARN IT Act will not protect children. It will not stop the spread of child sexual abuse material, nor target the monsters who produce and share it, and it will not help the victims of these evil crimes. What it will do is threaten the free speech, privacy, and security of every single American. This is because, at its core, the amended EARN IT Act magnifies the failures of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act--SESTA--and its House companion, the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act--FOSTA. Experts believe that SESTA/FOSTA has done nothing to help victims or stop sex trafficking, while creating collateral damage for marginalized communities and the speech of all Americans. A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of FOSTA on First Amendment grounds is proceeding through the courts, and there is bicameral Federal legislation to study the widespread negative impacts of the bill on marginalized groups. Yet, the authors of the EARN IT Act decided to take this kind of carveout and expand it further to State civil and criminal statutes. By allowing any individual State to set laws for internet content, this bill would create massive uncertainty, both for strong encryption and constitutionally protected speech online. What is worse, the flood of State laws that could potentially arise under the EARN IT Act raises strong Fourth Amendment concerns, meaning that any CSAM evidence collected could be rendered inadmissible in court and accused CSAM offenders could get off scot-free. This is not a risk that I am willing to take. Let me be clear: The proliferation of these heinous crimes against children is a serious problem. However, for these reasons and more, the EARN IT Act is not the solution. Moreover, it ignores what Congress can and should be doing to combat this heinous crime. The U.S. has a number of important evidence-based programs in existence that are proven to keep kids safe, and they are in desperate need of funding to do their good work. Yet the EARN IT Act doesn't include a single dollar of funding for these important programs. It is time for the U.S. Government to spend the funds necessary to save children's lives now. In May of 2020, I introduced the Invest in Child Safety Act to do exactly that. My bill would drastically increase the number of prosecutors and agents hunting down child predators, require a single person to be personally responsible for these efforts, and direct more than $5 billion in mandatory funding to the folks who can actually make a difference in this fight. I believe this historic, mandatory investment in personnel and funding is necessary to truly take on the scourge of child exploitation, and I urge my colleagues to support my approach. Meanwhile, I intend to object to any unanimous consent agreement regarding the EARN IT Act. ____________________